5 Possible Left-Back Replacements for Ashley Cole at Chelsea

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5 Possible Left-Back Replacements for Ashley Cole at Chelsea
Ian Walton/Getty Images

There was a moment during the first half of England's 1-0 defeat to Germany this week that Ashley Cole looked as vulnerable as he ever has throughout his career.

Tracking back to close down Mario Gotze, the Bayern Munich midfield man had him in a spin, breezing past Cole with a simple drop of the shoulder.

If that moment wasn't bad enough for Cole, he struggled to recover from it, too, leaving Steven Gerrard to mop up after him.

Every defender, no matter their quality, will suffer from players of Gotze's ability at one point in their career. But for Cole, these moments are alarmingly becoming more frequent. And whereas he had enough about him to recover in the past, his opponents are finding him more and more charitable these days.

Is it a loss of form? A lack of fitness, even? Or worse, a sign that time is catching up with him? Only Cole truly knows, but at 32 years old, his performances are under greater scrutiny now than they have ever been.

This season is a vital one for Cole. Not only is he in the final year of his contract at Chelsea, but 2013-14 ends with a World Cup in Brazil.

Like any one of his England teammates, he will not only be desperate to make Roy Hodgson's squad, but his starting XI and in the face of a very real challenge for superiority from Leighton Baines, he knows he needs to rediscover his joie de vivre on the pitch.

Equally, as Chelsea look to continue their progress under Jose Mourinho, the Blues will be concerned that Cole's best days are behind him. If that's so, Mourinho will need to have his replacement lined up sooner rather than later.

Playing the role of Chelsea scout, Bleacher Report highlights five realistic targets who could fill the void any departure of Cole will leave at Stamford Bridge.

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